Meet Our DoctorElsa de Menezes Fernandes
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
What Does the Term High-Risk Pregnancy Mean?
If you have been told that you have a “high-risk pregnancy” it means that in order to have a healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery, you may need some extra care or precautions.
This is mostly the case if you suffer from a chronic illness or have other risk factors and conditions that may put you in the high-risk category.
It is even possible to begin a normal pregnancy and develop conditions that put you into the high-risk category.
Regardless of what causes your pregnancy to become high-risk, it is possible that some problems may persist with both you and / or the baby during the pregnancy, birth process, or even after the delivery.
The problems can be minor or life-threatening in severity for both the mother and the baby, requiring extra care and monitoring from your doctor.
Causes of a High-Risk Pregnancy
There are many factors that can make a pregnancy high-risk.
If you had problems with a previous pregnancy or delivered a baby early, your next pregnancy may fall into the high-risk category as a result.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily experience the same problems again, but previous problems with a pregnancy may cause your doctor to monitor your health and the progression of the pregnancy a little more.
If you are someone who has had previous health conditions that may make your pregnancy high-risk, please talk to your doctor before becoming pregnant. Your doctor can help you navigate the pregnancy process in a healthy and safe manner.
However, keep in mind that there are many conditions that can affect a pregnancy:
High-Risk Pregnancy Environmental Triggers
Keep in mind that unhealthy lifestyle habits can affect pregnancy as well. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption and illicit drug use will increase your risk of pregnancy problems. In fact, drinking during pregnancy exposes your unborn child to many health risks, some fatal.
Furthermore, if you smoke you could give birth to a baby with low birth weight. If you struggle with unhealthy lifestyle issues, please contact your doctor so that you can access help for these problems.
Some problems occur, even when a woman is healthy. Many of these can’t be anticipated or develop without an explanation.
Some include but are not limited to:
Will My Prenatal Care Be Different With a High-Risk?
Generally speaking, a high-risk pregnancy will more than likely require more frequent prenatal visits and closer monitoring. If your condition is serious enough, you may even be referred to an appropriate specialist doctor for your condition for a multidisciplinary approach to your care and treatment. The exact care you will receive is dependent on your particular condition and circumstances.
Does a High-Risk Pregnancy Affect Labor?
It is possible that a high-risk pregnancy could result in problems during labour. This is why a hospital birth is usually the best option because the proper equipment and personnel are there, to closely monitor the birth process and step in if something goes wrong.
Furthermore, if you’re having multiples, you’re more likely to go into labour early, as this is a high-risk pregnancy. Preterm labour is common in high-risk pregnancies. Occasionally your doctor may even have to induce you, to prevent or reduce the likelihood of other health problems arising for you and your baby.
There may also be situations that make a vaginal birth too risky and you may need to have a c-section as a result.
This is why it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor regarding what you may need to prepare for during labour so that you will be mentally prepared and know what to expect.
Is My Baby Going To Be Okay?
It’s natural for a high-risk pregnancy to cause anxiety over the health and wellness of the baby. Good prenatal care makes it possible to still have a healthy baby even if the pregnancy is high-risk. Keep the lines of communication open with your doctor and talk to him or her about your concerns and anything you can do to keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible. This means discussing any drugs you may be taking and allowing your doctor to change your medications if they are not safe for the baby.
If complications occur as a result of some drug interaction or a health problem, the results could be early childbirth, which could result in difficulty breathing and feeding, not to mention a whole host of other complications. If this happens, the baby may have to spend more time in the hospital to stabilize and get well, in addition to requiring more care and attention. When this happens, newborn babies are often placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Emotional Support for a High-Risk Pregnancy Diagnosis
A high-risk pregnancy can create many different feelings. In fact, you’re likely to feel a mix of emotions. These emotions may make it hard to enjoy your pregnancy because of all the stress and worry these emotions may create. You may worry about your health as well as the health of your baby, but your doctor should be able to help you manage these feelings.
Ask your provider for information and resources that you can use to help manage your emotions. You should also start building a support network to help manage these emotions. Your support can come from family, friends, and even other women in a similar situation. Sharing your thoughts feelings and concerns will give you an outlet and help to keep you informed and more in control of your feelings.
You may hear and read about many issues and complications that could happen as a result of your high-risk pregnancy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a healthy baby. Manage your emotions by using your support system to help you through those moments when fear and worry set in.
Reducing High-Risk Pregnancy Complications
If you fall into the high-risk category during your pregnancy there are things you can do, to increase the health and wellness of both your unborn child and yourself and avoid pregnancy complications: